Exploring Uncharted Territory

Sebastian Lena

French mathematician André Sainte-Lagu once said, “According to aerodynamic laws, the bumblebee cannot fly. Its body weight is not the right proportion to its wingspan. Ignoring these laws, the bee flies anyway.”

The UMass Boston women’s soccer team can definitely relate.

In the preseason, the Lady Beacons were predicted to finish last in the Little East Conference standings. Instead, they have excelled in their first three conference games with an undefeated record at 2-0-1.

It’s hard to imagine that before this year the Lady Beacons hadn’t won a conference game in 87 matches, dating back to September 28, 1995.

“The big difference with this year’s team is numbers,” said junior midfielder Erika Marsters. “The first year I played we could hardly field a team, so it was difficult for us to play the full 90 minutes. This year we have the best numbers we’ve had in a while with a lot of talent. We also all get along great and have great chemistry.”

Freshman midfielder Molly Kuchar mentions chemistry as an important element in the team’s success.

“All the girls are not only close on the field, but also off the field too,” Kuchar said. “It’s really been a factor in us doing well so far. We all get along and enjoy being around each other.”

Lady Beacons head coach Amy Zombeck, in her fourth season, brings up pride as an aspect of the success.

“There is a lot of pride and respect at stake,” Zombeck said. “Most of these players come from winning programs and they are bringing that tradition here. The UMB women’s program means something now.”

One only needs to look at their third conference game vs. UMass Dartmouth when the Lady Beacons faced a 2-0 deficit with 22 minutes left. It looked like they were headed for their first loss in conference play. However, unlike teams of previous years, these ladies refused to fold and rallied for a 2-2 draw behind a late goal by sophomore defender Lauren Vargas.

With strong efforts like this, the Lady Beacons are feeling good right now.

“It’s a great confidence booster for our team to start off the season with two conference wins,” stated Marsters. “We’ve been doubted in this conference for a long time and we are finally getting to show everyone what we can do.”

Kuchar cited the confidence gained from the huge Rhode Island College victory.

“After making history in Rhode Island, all 22 girls walked off the field in such high spirits,” she said. “We use our confidence almost as fuel to help us prepare and know we are good enough to win games and make history into the playoffs.”

Gaining confidence is a good thing, but there always lies a risk in becoming overconfident. However, Coach Zombeck assured that will not be the case with her team.

“These girls know that it takes more than a win or two to gain respect and that’s what we are looking for,” Zombeck explained. “They want to make a statement and are working hard to change history and reputation here at UMB.”

Kuchar echoes her coach.

“I personally don’t think our confidence will ever hinder our season,” said Kuchar. “Coach always prepares us in the right mindset before each game, helping us realize what needs to be done and how we’re going to play.”

The Ladies from The Peninsula are already on their way to changing history here at UMass Boston. They are off to their best conference start in program history and, with one more win, will tie the team record for most conference wins in a season.

Remaining humble is one thing. Dealing with the stress of making history is another.

“I actually think it pushes us to work even harder,” Marsters said. “Having already made history gives us more confidence in our game. Winning, especially making history when we do, is a great feeling. A feeling we hope to continue to have.”

If the Lady Beacons do continue to bask in that feeling, they might witness a role reversal. Seen as the underdog in seasons past, these ladies might soon be playing with a bull’s eye on their back.

Teams know we are not the UMass of old,” said Zombeck. “We are still proving ourselves in and out of conference. So do we have a bull’s eye? I hope so because every team we play, we put a bull’s eye on their back.”

That kind of attitude can only bring positive results. As General George S. Patton, the most successful U.S. field commander once said, “Success is determined by how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”

The Lady Beacons hit bottom for a while, but their bounce is headed for a record high.